Lionel Messi gives set-piece masterclass as Barcelona crush Celta Vigo

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Lionel Messi scored a hattrick, two of which were free kick goals in Barcelona's 4-1 win vs. Celta.

It was also Messi's 52nd career hat-trick, with his first hat-trick dating back to 2007.

Barca's captain coolly converted a penalty to put the champions ahead in the 23rd minute but gave away a foul in a unsafe area which led to Lucas Olaza levelling for Celta with an outstanding strike from a free kick in the 42nd.

But anything Olaza could do, Messi could do better, and he did it TWICE with two stunning free-kick strikes either side of half-time.

Sergio Busquets added another in the 85th minute to complete the comprehensive win on the night.

He conjured up an nearly identical strike at the start of the second half to complete his treble and match Cristiano Ronaldo's record of 34 hat-tricks in Spain's top flight.

But with Ronaldo now plying his trade in Serie A with Juventus, the coast is clear for Messi to surpass his longtime rival and stand alone as the most prolific hat-trick scorer in La Liga history.

"We have a very big advantage, he's the best in the world and also the best freekick taker in the world", Busquets told Movistar about Messi.

Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Junior Firpo's cross struck defender Joseph Aidoo's arm.

"With Leo, anything is possible", Valverde said.

"Little by little he has been improving at free-kicks, he used to find them hard. It is an advantage that we have, that our opponents fear and that is fine", Goal.com quoted Valverde as saying.

"The important thing was that the team won".

With Real Madrid registering a victory as well, the race for La Liga has become all the more interesting.

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